Lee Health announced today that it has become the first health care system in the United States to offer select menu items Heart-Check certified by the American Heart Association®. Seven menu items have been Heart-Check certified and are available to patients, visitors and staff in Lee Health's hospitals in Southwest Florida, including Cape Coral Hospital, Gulf Coast Medical Center, HealthPark Medical Center and Lee Memorial Hospital.
The iconic Heart-Check mark on a Lee Health menu item means the recipe has been certified to satisfy the American Heart Association's nutritional requirements, including specific guidelines for calories, fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium and beneficial nutrients. The Heart-Check makes it simple for patients and café customers in the four Lee Health hospitals to identify healthy dining choices, and gives them peace of mind that they are consuming heart-smart meals.
"We are very excited to be the first health care system to pursue and receive Heart-Check certification," says Larry Antonucci, M.D., MBA, Lee Health President & CEO. "These heart-healthy, balanced meals provide the nourishment necessary for healing; and by offering them in our cafes, we have the opportunity to inspire healthy choices for our staff and visitors. Leading the way for other health systems to pursue this certification also reinforces our vision of being a national leader for the advancement of health and healing."
Larry Altier, Lee Health System Director of Food and Nutrition Services, believes the certification will help those within the health system make heart-savvy food selections. "By offering these products and others as key features of our nutrition service, we're promoting a whole food, plant-based approach that allows healthier options," Altier says. "We want consumers to equate Lee Health with providing healthy, nutritious choices."
The American Heart Association's Heart-Check nutrition requirements are based on the organization's healthy dietary requirements, including food categories, specific product ingredients and nutrient values. In 2014, a research study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that individuals who reported eating foods meeting the American Heart Association's Heart-Check certification requirements were more likely to eat healthier and have fewer heart disease risk factors.
Lee Health's seven menu items that have been Heart-Check certified include:
- Farmer's Breakfast: Egg white omelet with veggies, grits, blueberry banana muffin and melon cup
- On the Light Side: Fresh fruit plate, fat free yogurt, oat bran fruit muffin
- Red, White & Blue Waffles: Whole grain waffle with fat free vanilla yogurt, topped with strawberries, blueberries and bananas
- From the Garden: Cinnamon scented breakfast quinoa bowl
- Sea & Land: Grilled salmon on bed of fresh organic spinach with quinoa, lemon vinaigrette and mandarin oranges
- Black Bean Burger: Black bean burger patty served with cabbage slaw, salsa and pineapple.
- Italian Fare: Pasta with meat sauce served with an organic spring mix salad, apple slices